Shine Bright: 16 spots to see festive holiday lights this season

Here's a list of some of the best light shows in the area.

Each holiday season, the city lights up with festive ways to help you create magical memories. Grab your loved ones, and check out these amazing light displays around and near the New Orleans metro area.

Photo courtesy: Downtown Development District

Canal Street

Starting Nov. 26

Canal Street comes to life this holiday season when the Downtown Development District flips the switch on more than one million twinkling lights and a giant Christmas tree at the Astor Crowne Plaza Hotel. Don’t miss the official tree lighting ceremony on Tuesday, Nov. 26. It makes a great place to take photos and soak up the holiday spirit with loved ones. Here’s a look back at the evolution of historic Canal Street.

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Celebration in the Oaks

Nov. 29 – Jan. 1

Breathtaking light displays adorn New Orleans City Park for the annual Celebration in the Oaks. The magical winter spectacle attracts crowds each year 25 acres of holiday lights and holiday favorites like Mister Bingle. The Botanical Gardens, Storyland and Carousel Gardens come alive this holiday season. The holiday attraction opens on Nov. 29 to Jan. 1, except on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. Admission starts at $10, and children under age 3 are free, along with Friends of City Park members.

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Audubon Zoo Lights
Photo courtesy: Audubon Nature Institute

Audubon Zoo Lights

Nov. 29 – Dec. 30

Audubon Zoo’s holiday attraction returns for a second year to transform the destination into a “wild, glowing wonderland.” Audubon Zoo Lights will bring the holiday spirit with a family-friendly lights display. The event features animal-themed light displays, nightly live entertainment, and Elves Workshop and special holiday treats. The family-friendly festivities are set to kick off on select nights between Nov. 29 and Dec. 30.

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Photo courtesy: Harrah's New Orleans

Miracle on Fulton Street

Nov. 29 – Dec. 21

Harrah’s transforms Fulton Street into a winter wonderland to create Miracle on Fulton Street. Once you walk through the giant, lighted ornament you’ll enter a world of holiday fun and cheer. The spectacle features an hourly “snowfall,” twinkling lights, a larger than life tree and a gingerbread display in Harrah’s Hotel lobby. Santa makes appearances every Friday and Saturday, and local bands provide live music. The attraction opens daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Admission is free.

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Photo courtesy: The Roosevelt New Orleans

Waldorf Wonderland at the Roosevelt Hotel

Dec. 3 – Jan. 4

Each holiday season, the Roosevelt Hotel’s Waldorf Wonderland lobby comes to dazzling life. This year, The Roosevelt New Orleans taps local musician Trombone Shorty for the lighting of the Waldorf Wonderland in the hotel’s lobby on Dec. 3. The lobby display features 44 Birch trees, more than 22,000 twinkling lights, and scores of festively dressed Christmas trees. The annual holiday tradition brings locals and visitors out for the perfect photo op. Plus, while you’re there, make it a date night and stop over to the Sazerac Bar.

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Photo courtesy: Visit Jefferson Parish

Christmas in the Park

Dec. 6 – Dec. 30

This holiday exhibit at Lafreniere Park sparkles with thousands of twinkling lights. See displays like a 60-foot sea serpent, a princess and her magical castle and the gingerbread man. There’s even a new display featuring DC and Marvel characters. Admission is $5 per vehicle. Enter the park from the West Napoleon Avenue access gate. The Children’s carousel will be open nightly for $1 per child. This exhibit is open Sunday through Thursday from dusk until 9:45 p.m. and Friday through Sunday from dusk until 11:45 p.m.

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Photo courtesy: Visit Jefferson Parish

Kenner Christmas Village

Dec. 6 – Dec. 28

The Kenner Christmas Village illuminates this holiday season with lights and animated scenery. The attraction opens Fridays and Saturdays starting Dec. 6 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. The event will turn Kenner into a winter wonderland with “snow” every weekend. Visitors can also food and entertainment. The Kenner Planetarium will open on select days for special evening screenings at 7 p.m. on Dec. 7, 14, 21 and 28.

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Photo courtesy: Christmas Under the Stars

Christmas Under the Stars

Dec. 6 – Dec. 14

Slidell gets decked out for the holiday season with this annual holiday celebration, Christmas Under the Stars. The annual celebration features twinkling lights, festive decorations and Christmas songs. You’ll also see Santa and Mrs. Claus, the Parade of Trees, life-size Christmas Cottages and Slidell’s Nativity. The four-day celebration begins on Friday, Dec. 6 and Saturday, Dec. 7, and resumes on Friday, Dec. 13, and Saturday, Dec. 14, at Griffith Park in Olde Towne Slidell. Hours are 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Admission is free.

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Photo courtesy: Unsplash

St. Tammany Annual Holiday of Lights

Dec. 6 – Dec. 14

St. Tammany brings holiday cheer and entertainment to Mandeville with the annual Holiday of Lights at Koop Drive directly behind the Kid’s Konnection Playground. The free event kicks off at 5:45 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 6. The event takes place over two December weekends, on December 6, 7, 13, and 14. Doors open from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Families can enjoy entertainment from local schools and performance groups. There will also be free kiddie rides, crafts, opportunities to adopt pets and decorated Christmas trees by schools and other organizations. Santa will be on-hand for pictures with the children at a cost of $20 each, and refreshments will be available for purchase.

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Photo courtesy: Ponchatoula Chamber of Commerce via Facebook

Pontchatoula Christmas Lighting

Dec. 6

The mayor of Ponchatoula will flip the switch to light up the town in this age-old tradition at 6 p.m. on Dec. 6. Families can get in the holiday spirit while strolling the streets and browsing through local shops. There’s also lots of food, fun and hot chocolate. Santa will be on the steps of Collinswood Museum with candy canes for the kids.

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Photo courtesy: Photo courtesy: Bryce Ell Photography

Luna Fete

Dec. 12 – Dec. 15

Luna Fete, New Orleans’ free festival of light, art and technology, returns this holiday season. The interactive holiday lights event is set to dazzle downtown from Dec. 12 to Dec. 15. The event is free and open to the public nightly from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. from Lafayette Square to Fulton Street.

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Photo courtesy: LouisianaNorthshore.com

Deck the Rails at Covington Trailhead

Dec. 14

Families can see the lighting of the Covington Trailhead at this free holiday event on Dec. 14. Bring your lawn chairs and blankets for an outdoor movie and craft activities. Also, don’t forget your camera for pictures with Santa. The event is from 4 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

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Photo courtesy: Lights at the Lake

Lights on the Lake Celebration & Boat Parade

Dec. 14

Dozens of local boat owners decorate their vessels for the Lights on the Lake Celebration and Boat Parade from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Dec. 14. The event held at the New Canal Lighthouse will also include food trucks, hot toddies and refreshments. Kids can make crafts and take pictures with Santa. Parents can also work on last-minute gifts at the “last stop shopping” village. Admission is $5. Kids under 12 enter free.

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Photo courtesy: Slidell's Bayou Christmas via Facebook

Slidell's Bayou Christmas

Dec. 18 – Dec. 23

Slidell’s Bayou Christmas features more than 80,000 lights animated to holiday music in Slidell’s Heritage Park each night starting at 6 p.m. An opening ceremony kicks off the event on Dec. 18. The free holiday festival features rides, nightly entertainment, and pictures with Santa. On Dec. 21, festival-goers can enjoy a free screening of a holiday movie from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Entertainment and rides close on Dec. 23, but displays will remain lighted for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day for the community to enjoy.  Admission is free.

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Photo courtesy: NOLA ChristmasFest

NOLA ChristmasFest

Dec. 20 – Dec. 31

This family-friendly indoor Christmas festival at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center features festive lighting displays and decorated Christmas trees. Get filled with holiday cheer with this fest jam-packed with activities including a real indoor ice skating rink, ice slides and carnival rides. Santa and all his friends also make an appearance. Hours vary; click here for hours of operation. General admission tickets are $20 for weekdays and $25 on weekends.

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Eden Isles Christmas Boat Parade

Dec. 21

It’s a Louisiana Christmas on the water! Boats adored with holiday lights will parade through the waterways of the Slidell neighbor. The parade roll at 5 p.m. on Dec. 21. The best place for the public to watch it is near the fire house on Marina Drive.

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